/ Agency News

The New River Valley Regional Commission is receiving a Bronze designation from the national SolSmart (www.solsmart.org) program for advancing solar energy options in the New River Valley. It is only the second regional organization in Virginia to achieve the SolSmart designation.  Nationally there are only seven regional organizations designated by SolSmart. This designation recognizes the Regional Commission for taking steps to encourage solar energy growth by offering technical assistance on solar planning and permitting to local government and higher education member organizations in the region. SolSmart is led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. More than 390 cities, counties, and small towns have achieved SolSmart designation since the program launched in 2016.  In the New River Valley two local governments have SolSmart designations, Pulaski County with Gold and the Town of Blacksburg with Silver. Speaking about the designation, Kevin Byrd, executive director, said, “The Regional Commission is excited to receive the SolSmart Bronze designation as an acknowledgement of the agency’s efforts to provide technical assistance to our members on energy alternatives.  As solar energy becomes more affordable, we are helping position the region to welcome the technology.” Aphi Fancon, a senior planner with the Regional Commission, led the agency through the designation process and shared, “We have seen a high-level of engagement on the topic with our members and hope to see more pursuing their own designations in the future because it ultimately helps provide citizens and businesses with energy options.” SolSmart uses objective criteria to award regional organizations points based on the actions they take to reduce barriers to solar energy development. Communities that take sufficient action are designated either gold, silver, or bronze. As part of the SolSmart program, a team of national experts provides no-cost technical assistance to help communities achieve designation. All municipalities, counties, and regional organizations are eligible to join the SolSmart program and receive this technical assistance. Interested communities can learn more at SolSmart.org